Why good onboarding leads to better employee retention

by Seth Richtsmeier on Jul 18, 2018 3:02:37 PM

The process of hiring and retaining employees is never easy. Hiring can be a rigorous, time-consuming endeavor that kicks off when a company publicizes its various job openings, and then ceases after a suitable candidate has been selected, vetted, and hired. Naturally a newly-hired employee may feel out of place during the first few weeks of employment. It’s not uncommon to hear someone has submitted their resignation letter just months into the job.

woman mentoring fellow coworker and working in modern bright office indoor

Companies can put special structures in place to acclimate their new employees and help them feel more involved and part of a caring team. Employee onboarding is a crucial process that all organizations should implement to ensure that newly-hired talents not only feel comfortable, but also become content and productive in their roles. Onboarding engages both managers and employees – it isn’t an isolated responsibility. Onboarding could last up to a year depending on the circumstances.

What are some ways in which proper onboarding can improve employee retention?

 

Help optimize the performance of new employees

According to one research conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council, employees insentiently increase their work efforts by about 20% when they’re subjected to an effective staff onboarding program. In a different study conducted by the Wynhurst Group in 2007, newly-hired staff are 58% more likely to work at their respective companies if a well-structured employee onboarding practice is put in place. Clearly staff onboarding helps new employees to perform their best. Performance is a crucial element in each organization as no company wants to hire disinterested employees who don’t give their best. As part of an employee retention program, some companies have sessions to teach their newly-hired staff about the vision, mission, culture, and core values of the business. This is just the preliminary process of onboarding. Employees should also be trained to comprehend their role in the company.

Allow new employees to get comfortable

It’s not always easy being the new kid in the neighborhood. When an employee is hired by a company, they often feel pressured to perform skillfully and quickly off the bat. This feeling creates unnecessary tension that affects the employee’s performance and makes them feel uncomfortable. One study by Jac Fitz-enz contained in his book titled “The ROI of Human Capital” established there’s a distinct link between staff onboarding and employee retention. This study focused on 12 individuals who were hired for certain mission-critical roles within a certain organization. Only four recruits who had failed to undergo the onboarding process left their jobs. Evidently, companies should be better in making their new hires feel comfortable with their responsibilities for optimal staff retention.

Enhance staff motivation and save money

Ineffective staff onboarding can be extremely costly in the long run. Businesses in the United States and the United Kingdom lose billions of dollars every year because their new employees fail to understand their job descriptions. Proper employee onboarding helps to reduce the costs associated with initial staff training. The extra resources that are saved can be channeled towards staff motivation in an effort to enhance employee retention. Companies can save time and money through spearheading effective onboarding techniques at the workplace.

Facilitate a smoother transition for new recruits

Some companies barely give their new talents enough time to acclimate and get oriented. As soon as they’re hired, managers may assign a difficult task without even showing the employee “the ropes” as they say. Introducing new employees to fellow team members and colleagues throughout the workplace is a must. Proper employee onboarding involves preparing new employees for the journey ahead. For instance, a manager could introduce a new worker to fellow teammates, prepare all the paperwork before the first day, and ensure the staff’s workstation is ready to go. The smoother the transition, the higher the chances of retaining new talents.

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Make employees feel appreciated

Whether at home or in the workplace, most people wish to feel appreciated by others. Employees who land a new job often try hard to prove their worth to management. However, if their efforts are met with negative criticisms or they go unrecognized altogether, these employees tend to become unhappy and not motivated.

Surprising Effects of Employee Recognition

This could severely affect their work productivity and make it much more difficult for them to feel like part of the team. On the other hand, employees who receive high levels of support from their managers and colleagues tend to develop positive attitudes, prompting them to perform even better. Appreciation can go a long way in achieving higher employee retention rates.

What are crucial methods for effective staff onboarding?

 

Create programs that build trust

Senior management should work in conjunction with lower level managers and team leaders to design an efficient trust-building framework for the company. This framework can then be inserted into the company’s overall onboarding program. For instance, when a new hire is assigned to a department, their respective manager could educate them about best organizational practices and policies to follow. Such kind of employee sensitization helps to build a firm foundation of trust among staff.

Build clear communication channels

When employees start their new jobs, they may feel intimidated by their rank depending on the role and responsibilities. As a result, voicing their issues and concerns to management is avoided or becomes an intimidating venture. Part of your organization’s onboarding process should involve creating proper communication outlets that encourage new hires to share their feedback concerning their responsibilities. Managers should support their entire staff, new or not, if they wish to improve employee retention. Staff onboarding partly involves relieving the unnecessary pressure of new recruits and making them feel welcome.

Offer continuous feedback

As previously mentioned, new employees should feel comfortable and appreciated in their new roles. These requirements aren’t hard to achieve. Managers simply need to offer feedback on a regular basis to new employees regarding their efforts in order to retain them. If an individual performs superbly in one role, he/she should be appropriately recognized by management for their efforts. On the other hand, if the individual gives a mediocre effort the manager should offer positive criticism and support so that success can be achieved. This way, new hires will know beyond reasonable doubt that they’re appreciated. Rather, they’ll feel like part of a team.

Image of an office mentor pointing to colleague's screen

Assign mentors to new staff

Another effective way to ensure that your employee onboarding process succeeds is by designating experienced employees (not necessarily management) to act as mentors to new personnel. This not only allows them to socialize with likeminded individuals, but also streamlines the acclimation and orientation process. Mentors should have positive attitudes and friendly personalities to serve as ideal role models for new employees. These mentors will ease the transition of new hires, show them how different operations are run, and motivate them to perform.

Be creative

There are no definitive guidelines to staff onboarding as there’s plenty of room to be creative. For instance, management could offer to treat all new recruits to lunch during their first week with the company. Or hold an informal team meeting after work hours to go bowling or catch a baseball game. These are nice gestures that might win the hearts of new employees. Naturally, any positive step or gesture towards improving employee retention is a good one. Managers should ensure their staff has all the tools they need to perform their jobs. This includes preparing their workstations, ensuring their phones and computers are functioning properly, and providing any other tools to equip for success. Employees will certainly voice their appreciation when they’re treated with dignity.

What are the downsides of ineffective employee onboarding?

 

Poor employee onboarding lowers company morale.

When a promising talent gets frustrated by the job and decides to leave, it can reduce the company’s morale. It could also point to a larger issue that negatively affects employees in the organization.

Poor employee onboarding equates to high turnover.

The cost of replacing recently-hired employees can be quite high. In fact, it’s far less expensive for a company to spend resources on staff onboarding than repeating the entire hiring process. Proper onboarding helps build a better relationship between employer and employee from day one.

Poor employee onboarding stunts business growth.

Companies with ineffective onboarding techniques often experience a slow growth rate. After all, sometimes a new employee is quickly ushered into the company and given directives without first learning about their specific role. Performance is hampered. Lack of proper onboarding can be detrimental to any organization.

Poor employee onboarding lowers employee retention rates.

When new hires feel unhappy or unappreciated in their new job, they may feel pressured to resign and search for more fulfilling jobs. As a result, overall staff retention will fall. Organizations with good onboarding programs understand the worth of new talents as they’ll do everything possible to retain them.

How do employee orientation and employee onboarding work together?

 

Staff onboarding is by no means a one-time affair. Successful onboarding can take up to 12 months, sometimes longer, and demands the concerted efforts of everyone within the organization.

However, onboarding allows an organization to maintain their top talents and keep employees motivated to perform their best. Businesses that wish to hire productive employees should first meet the immediate needs of new employees. Onboarding and orientation aren’t synonymous and shouldn’t be confused. Orientation is a process that can be owned by human resources or a specific team, which addresses operational needs and is typically completed over the course of one week. Onboarding, on the other hand, is a broader endeavor that involves an assortment of stakeholders.

Together, orientation and onboarding are structures that should be put in place to acclimate new employees to the mission and values of the business, as well as helping them feel more involved with the team for optimal staff retention.

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This post was written by Seth Richtsmeier

Seth is a search engine marketer living in the Boston area, with a passion and curiosity for everything digital marketing, connecting audiences to content. He believes you should work smart - not hard.